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Eye Problems: Natural Remedies and Diet Tips from Chinese Medicine

Eye Problems: Natural Remedies and Diet Tips from Chinese Medicine

Understanding eye problems through TCM and Ayurveda

Eye problems can make day-to-day life harder and impact well-being and life quality. The most common eye disorders are: red, itchy, burning, dry and bloodshot eyes, as well as a yellowish tinge in the whites or sensitivity to light. Once you know which factors can trigger and aggravate these symptoms, you can start finding ways to reduce or even eliminate them. Moreover, there are natural remedies and diet tips you can apply to help heal eye imbalances.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a saying: “The liver opens into the eyes.” That is why, we always treat the liver as well when seeing eye problems. When stress, overwork, feelings of anger and frustration and poor nutrition take over, the liver qi is no longer flowing harmoniously in the body. Therefore, the energy rises up and generates heat. As a result, it can manifest in forms of migraine-like headaches and eye problems. 

In Ayurvedic medicine we commonly see a Pitta imbalance at the root of eye problems. Meaning, that excess pitta in the form of heat is circulating in the system. Especially in summer, the season of pitta, we see more people suffering from itching, red and painful eyes when temperatures are rising. Whereas, dry and watery eyes are mainly caused by a Vata imbalance and often get worse in late autumn into early winter, the seasons of Vata.

Let´s look at the most common eye problems.

Healing your eyes with Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine wisdom

Red and itchy eyes

Redness and itchiness are signs of heat. Even if your eyes burn frequently, it can show an excess heat in the system. Consequently, we need to cool the liver and avoid things that produce heat.

The best foods to cool the liver are:

  • Green vegetables esp. broccoli, celery and courgette
  • Bitter salad
  • Artichoke
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Turmeric and saffron
  • Dandelion
  • Peppermint and jasmine tea

While the following foods and drinks are best to avoid: alcohol, coffee, sausage, fried and grilled meat, leek, sugar and strong spices like chilli, pimento, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Overconsumption of meat, shellfish and cacao can also lead to excess liver heat.

Also herbal infusions can help to reduce heat in the eyes. The best medicinal plants are:

  • Gentian root
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Chrysanthemum flowers

The following tea recipe from Chinese medicine helps to build up liver blood and to reduce heat in the eyes:

Take 1 tbsp chrysanthemum flowers and 1.5 tbsp goji berries. Steep into 500ml of boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Then drink over the day, ideally for a duration of around 2 weeks.

Chrysanthemum flowers are also recommended for conjunctivitis and high blood pressure. Because of their strong heat-clearing properties, it´s important to add goji berries to balance this strong effect. Another possibility is to prepare chrysanthemum flower tea, letting it cool off and to do an eye-wash.

Note: Never drink pure chrysanthemum flowers tea if suffering from low blood pressure. 

Ayurveda recommends washing the eyes with high-quality rose water. This will help soothe and hydrate the tired, red and itchy eyes and give them a refreshed look.

Very dry and / or watery eyes

These are both signs of liver blood deficiency in Chinese medicine. The liver stores the blood and if it gets deficient, the eyes are not enough moistened and get dry. Whereas, watery eyes, indicate that liver wind has risen up to the eyes due to the lack of blood. Furthermore, this can lead to sensitivity of pollen, light, wind or air conditioning. Simply, because the eyes are not able anymore to create a natural barrier to defend themselves from these external factors.

The following foods can help to rebuild liver blood if eaten regularly:

  • Broccoli
  • Cherry
  • Dark berries
  • Molasses or black treacle
  • Lamb´s lettuce
  • Date
  • Egg yolk
  • Carrot, parsnip and other root veggies
  • Lentil
  • Parsley
  • Pine nut
  • Beetroot
  • Black sesame paste

Especially the following things can cause dry and watery eyes: smoking, too much black tea and coffee, spicy foods, red wine, poor nutrition and long hours in front of a computer screen.

Ayurveda suggests drinking licorice tea and putting a drop of Triphala Ghee in the eyes. Also regular consumption of Triphala Ghee in your food preparation can support the healing process.

Yellow eyes

According to TCM, a yellowish tinge in the whites of the eyes is due to too much dampness and heat in the liver. Other signs can be grittiness that feels like sand in the eyes or sticky eyelids in the morning.

That´s why it´s important to avoid everything that produces more dampness like: sugar, white flour, wheat, cow’s milk, fried or oily and too much raw food. Foods that are especially good to reduce excess dampness are: apple, millet, miso, seaweed, radish, olive, kidney bean, mushroom and shiitake. See above for the diet recommendations for reducing excess heat.

A great herbal tea to reduce dampness and heat from the eyes is dandelion tea. Take 2 tbsp of dandelion roots and leaves. Then steep it for at least 15 minutes in 500ml cold water, bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. After that remove the herbs and drink at room temperature. Note: If you suffer from soft bowels or diarrhea, you should combine it with other herbs to counterbalance the strong cooling effect.

Amalaki, a famous ayurvedic plant, helps to reduce heat and strengthens the digestive fire to help reduce dampness in the body. Furthermore, it´s boosting immunity and supports healthy metabolism.

Are you looking for natural ways to improve and protect your eye sight and heal eye problems? Treatment options can vary widely and depend on the underlying conditions causing it. Get in touch with me for a personal  consultation. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Foods, Herbs & Plants to Boost Natural Collagen Production

Foods, Herbs & Plants to Boost Natural Collagen Production

Collagen the Fountain of Youth

Who needs botox when there is collagen? One of the main organic components of the skin (80%) is collagen.

Collagen makes your skin elastic and is responsible for how tight or how flaccid and wrinkled it is. Besides being beneficial for a firm, smooth and glowing skin, it has other benefits on our health:

  • Supports bone health
  • Promotes vascular health
  • Keeps nails strong
  • Prevents hair loss
  • Supports eye health
  • Boosts immune system
  • Promotes joint and cartilage health
  • Supports gut health

Collagen – the inner corset of the body

Did you know that collagen is the most important fiber component of skin, bones, tendons, blood vessels, cartilage and teeth?

In the human body we find it mainly in the connective tissue. Collagen is the most important structural protein of the skin and works like an internal scaffold that holds our body together.

Collagen contains the three amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, which the body needs to produce its own collagen. A well-functioning collagen formation is essential for the health of our skin.

Our body independently forms the natural building substance daily with the help of certain cells, so-called fibroblasts. These store moisture and promote skin regeneration.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stay that way forever.

With aging the collagen breaks down faster than it is formed. As a result new collagen forms, but more slowly until the collagen renewal lags behind the breakdown.

The result: our skin becomes dull, lacklustre and wrinkles form.

So what to do to keep the skin firm and beautiful for a long time?

Collagen-boosting foods, plants and herbs

There are several foods, plants and herbs that help to boost collagen and promote a more youthful looking and radiant skin. Feed your skin beauty from the inside-out.

Foods rich in Collagen

Bone broth, chicken fricassee, fish, shell fish, egg white and gelatine.

TIP: Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis. The body needs a sufficient supply to produce collagen. To get the most out of your collagen intake, always pair it with vitamin C. Find a list of vitamin C rich foods here.

Aloe vera

Rich in vitamin A and C, antioxidants and highly anti-inflammatory it is a great remedy for the skin. It can be applied topically or taken orally. It has been used for healing wounds, burns and cuts for ages. Find here my recipe for “Skin Boost Smoothie.

Holy basil

An Indian herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. Due to its antioxidant actions it helps with irritations such as acne, eczema and cleans pores and treats successful blemishes. It contains ursolic acid which help protect the skin and has as well anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Furthermore, it increases the elasticity and, as a result reduces wrinkles.

Pearl powder (Zhen Zhu)

One of the most used Chinese herbs for a glowing complexion and can be found in pills, tooth pastes and face masks. It´s rich in many trace minerals, amino acids, boosts antioxidants and fibroblasts in the body.

Huang Qi

It´s commonly used in beauty formulas as it increases the blood flow to the skin. As a result it flushes out toxins and fights free radicals and acts as a great immune system booster. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial actions help the skin to maintain its firmness and elasticity.

Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi)

Another Chinese herb that is considered to be a great anti-aging herb. It is said to protect fibroblasts from UV radiation and to eliminate stress-related signs of fatigue. Furthermore, it detoxifies and protects the liver.

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM herbs.

Chinese medicine offers as well Gua Sha for the face, a specific type of facial massage with a scraping tool to encourage circulation, lymph flow and to smooth wrinkles. Learn more about it and save your spot at my next online live workshop.

Gua Sha Face Massage – Get rid of Wrinkles and Pimples Naturally

 

Online Facial Gua Sha Course

Pamper your skin with the treatment once reserved for Chinese royalty. This course will provide you with the Gua Sha techniques to use as part of your home beauty regime.

Encourage your collagen where you want to, tighten facial muscles, move your lymphs and remove puffiness for a younger and brighter looking face.

A Cold Uterus: How it influences menstruation, fertility and pregnancy

A Cold Uterus: How it influences menstruation, fertility and pregnancy

The Uterus from a Chinese medicine perspective

In TCM the uterus, Bao Gong, is not seen as an isolated organ, but includes the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the cervix. It´s also called the “palace of the child”. The extraordinary vessels Ren Mai and Chong Mai go through the uterus. They help regulate menstruation, conception and pregnancy. As a result, the uterus has several functions such as: stores and excretes the menstrual blood; stores the kidney-essence “jing”; triggers ovulation; thickens the endometrium; receives the sperm and carries and supplies the embryo until birth.

The heart is closely connected to the uterus via the uterus vessel, Bao Mai. That´s why, mental-emotional problems have such a profound impact on the uterus. The kidneys connect to the uterus via the uterus channel Bao Luo. Above all, a proper functioning liver, heart and spleen supply the uterus with blood.

Cold invading the uterus

Cold in the uterus is a very common gynaecological pathology. In other words, kidney yang is lacking, and qi (yang = heat) is no longer able to move liquids (yin = blood). As a result, the blood cannot flow and circulate optimally.

Cold in the uterus often penetrates into the body from the outside. This can happen by:

  • excessive consumption of cold foods (ice cream, raw food, ice-cold drinks, etc.)
  • excessive sports in winter
  • swimming, sitting on cold surfaces especially during menstruation
  • feeling cold due to sparse clothing on the feet and lower legs
  • having sex while menstruating
  • live or work in a damp and cold environment

Stay connected and drop by on Instagram and Facebook

How Chinese medicine diagnoses a cold uterus

A cold uterus in Chinese medicine is diagnosed when three different patterns and signs simultaneously appear:

  • the area below belly button feels cooler to the touch than the rest of the abdomen
  • kidney-yang deficiency
  • blood-stasis

The kidney-yang regulates, among other things: our inner fire, ensures that we are warm, gives us enough drive, preserves vitality and willpower.

Possible signs of kidney-yang deficiency are

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • lower back pain esp. before period
  • pain relieved by application of heat
  • chronic cold to ice-cold feet, esp. at night
  • low libido
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • regular urinating at night or in the early morning hours
  • loose, urgent stools or diarrhea, esp. when period starts
  • cramps during period that improve to a heating pad
  • profuse vaginal discharge
  • frequent urination
  • low BBT readings

Blood stasis never arises independently (like e.g. liver-qi stagnation) but is always the consequence of other conditions and patterns, usually after a long period of time. Thus, there are no aetiological factors like diet, emotions, etc. that give rise to blood-stasis by themselves.

Possible signs of blood-stasis are

  • painful periods with dark blood and large-dark clots
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • mid-cycle pain around your ovaries
  • painful, unmovable lumps in breast or thyroid
  • haemorrhoids
  • blood clots in menstruation blood
  • veins under tongue are distended and / or dark
  • irregular periods
  • fibroids
  • spider veins
  • endometriosis
  • myoma
  • amenorrhoea
  • menstrual cramps with a pain that is fixed, boring, or stabbing in quality
  • cherry-red spots on your skin (often on the upper body)
  • hesitant start of the periods
  • periods starts and stops
  • period starting and ending with a brownish discharge
  • tongue may have purple sides

Myomas / fibroids, endometriosis and PCOS all present with signs of blood stasis.

How blood stasis affects your period

In women, the lower abdomen contains the uterus which stores blood. As a result, women are much more prone to blood stasis than men. If blood stasis occurs the menstrual blood can contain blood clots, usually dark and large ones. Blood stasis often causes pain but not always. If there is pain, then it´s an intense, stabbing and fixed one.

What happens during menstruation? The uterus contracts to help expel its lining. In conclusion, if there is blood stagnation in the uterus, the blood is not flowing freely and this often leads to painful cramping. Furthermore, the congealed blood accumulates and forms blood clots.

How does the endometrium support nidation?

The anterior and posterior walls of the uterus contract like a closed fist that holds the embryo in one place until it is safely in its endometrial bed. This gentle pressure can be created by the uterus, if it is warm and not too dry or too moist.

If there are imbalances, as may be the case with women with kidney-yang deficiency the fluid is not properly absorbed. The surface of the endometrium is sometimes too slippery or, according to TCM, too “moist/damp” to provide support for the foetus.

General tips for warming your uterus

  • Eat warm, easy-digestible and nourishing foods
  • Avoid tropical fruits and too much raw food
  • Cut out cold drinks and foods, esp. from the refrigerator
  • Avoid alcohol and coffee
  • Eat an antioxidants rich diet
  • Exercise moderately
  • Take hot baths
  • Keep your feet, lower back and legs and abdomen always warm
  • Don´t sit on cold surfaces or go for a swim while menstruating

How does Chinese medicine treat a cold uterus?

Chinese medicine gives diet recommendations for easy-to-digest, warming and blood invigorating foods. In addition, herbs for strengthening kidney-yang, expelling cold in the uterus and invigorating blood are given. Furthermore, acupuncture is used to strengthen the Qi to support the movement of blood, treating the underlying imbalance and nourishing the kidneys.

References

Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. 2nd Edition. by Giovanni Maciocia

Also see my other articles

 

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

How to Improve your Fertility Naturally

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Chinese medicine: How the kidneys influence your fertility

Coffee – Is it Good or Bad for your Health?

Have you been trying to get pregnant for a long time and would you like to benefit from the knowledge of Chinese medicine, which has been tried and tested for thousands of years? I would be happy to talk to you about the options in my TCM practice. Get in touch with me. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Gua Sha Face Massage – Get rid of Wrinkles and Pimples Naturally

Gua Sha Face Massage – Get rid of Wrinkles and Pimples Naturally

Gua Sha the natural facelift

An effective help against wrinkles, blemishes and pimples that you can do yourself, wouldn´t that be great? And if you could see the results right after the treatment, that would be even better! Gua Sha face massage can do this.

Facial Gua Sha is the Chinese beauty secret to rejuvenate your skin naturally and to smoothen your wrinkles. That´s why we call it the “Botox of the Far East”. This centuries-old method from Traditional Chinese Medicine has proven itself in a way no cream, no matter how expensive, can do. It makes sense to fight facial aging holistically instead of injecting individual wrinkles which brings some health risks with it. The results of Gua Sha are visible on the entire face and the treatment has a noticeably positive effect on health and well-being.

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha, also called scraping, is an ancient massage technique in which the skin is repeatedly scraped with a rounded object (porcelain spoon, coin, horn or jade scraper). It is often used on the back and muscles, where the scraper is pressed firmly onto the skin and repeatedly moved along a meridian, muscle cord or fascia.

Gua Sha helps to dissolve stagnations that have accumulated in skin, muscle and connective tissue. The skin itself is irritated but not injured. As a result, bruises can occur in these areas. However, these are only a sign that the tissue is detoxifying. 

But no worry, this is not going to happen when we do Gua Sha on the face.

How to use Gua Sha on your face

The face is only gently scraped in certain directions without producing any bruises, just strong enough to reach the deeper connective tissue. The result is supposed to be rosy skin with good blood circulation. Consequently, the face will look more sculpted and lifted.

How much pressure we apply is very individual. While one woman gets red skin very quickly, another has to scrape very long until the skin really shows colour.

A Gua Sha facial treatment also includes the neck and décolleté as tensions in these areas also influence the face features. We normally use a Jade scraper for the treatment. Jade is a cooling and cleansing stone. 

Of course, it’s great to begin with it early in life but it´s never too late to start with this anti-aging face massage. Besides smoothing scars and wrinkles and preventing new ones, it helps to have a fresh rosy complexion with soft and friendly facial features. Blemishes and acne can improve significantly from it.

gua sha jade scraper

How often and when best

The best time to scrape is in the evening. During the Gua Sha face massage the facial fascia gets a lot of impulses, and the tissue continues processing them without you noticing it at full speed. As a result, the skin is much more sensitive to sun light and air pollution and needs the rest and safety of being at home. The actual work of the fascia often happens after the massage. Many acupuncture points are stimulated during the scraping. Therefore the skin is happy when it has some time to relax afterwards and you will have a better and more profound result the next morning.

8 benefits of Gua Sha facial massage

1. Powerful remedy for acne and pimples

The stimulated blood circulation improves wound healing and the skin has an improved ability to clean dirt, sebum and clogged pores. Therefore it has a very positive effect on acne and pimples. 

2. Gua Sha smoothes the skin

After the treatment the skin looks a bit like ironed out. When you have already scraped one side of the face, compare it with the other one. You will see a difference!

3. Detoxifies the tissue

Gua Sha has a strong detoxifying and cleansing effect and helps expelling disease-promoting substances out of the body.

4. Frees the fascia

Glued fascia are stimulated to remove blocked substances, which have settled over time in certain areas.

5. Moves the lymph

The scraping massage moves the lymphatic fluid and thus helps the lymphatic system to remove waste materials. The lymphatic system becomes sluggish with age, which leads to unsightly swellings e.g. puffy eye bags.

6. Relieves tension

Muscle tension such as in the jaw or neck are loosened. Sometimes the tension is more concentrated in the forehead and mouth area. You might subconsciously press your lips or draw your eyebrows together and this encourages new wrinkles. Gua Sha helps the muscles to get rid of the tension and can help to improve headaches, neck and jaw pain.

7. Improves the absorption of nutrients

After the massage the skin is extremely well supplied with blood, and nutrients can be absorbed and stored again in the skin. Therefore it´s advisable to put on a face mask from time to time after scraping.

8. Stimulates the flow of energy

Since there are many meridians in the face, the Gua Sha massage stimulates countless acupuncture points. This benefits the face’s energy cycle. Consequently, tensions in the neck and jaw and jammed lymphs on the throat can be unblocked and removed. 

Online Facial Gua Sha Course

I invite you to learn this wonderful method very comfortably in my online course so that you can use it with a good feeling. In this course you will learn the full technique for applying Gua Sha in your face, neck and décollté.

The Gua Sha self-massage takes less than 10 minutes once you master it, and it significantly enhances your face care program. 

The online course includes as well:

  • face gymnastic
  • lymphatic drainage anti-aging massage
  • post-treatment face mask 
  • herbal tea mixture for better skin

VIRTUAL GUA SHA PARTY – BOOKING BUTTON BELOW

When: Thursday, June 4th at 8.30pm CET

Where: we meet on Zoom

Read on for more tips:

Foods, Herbs & Plants to Boost your Collagen Production

Online Facial Gua Sha Course

Pamper your skin with the treatment once reserved for Chinese royalty. This course will provide you with the Gua Sha techniques to use as part of your home beauty regime.

Encourage your collagen where you want to, tighten facial muscles, move your lymphs and remove puffiness for a younger and brighter looking face.

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Fertility in Chinese Medicine and your kidneys

The kidneys belong to the water element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They create our sense of being rooted in our life and feeling inner security. Most importantly, they are the foundation for all of the body’s yin and yang energies. Some of their functions are: govern growth, development, water metabolism, reproduction and aging. Furthermore, they store the kidney essence. Also called jing which is considered to be the root of life of all aspects of human life. In Chinese medicine we see a kidney deficiency as one of the most common causes for fertility issues.

Some mental-emotional signs that your kidneys are out of whack are:

  • Not wanting to be by oneself.
  • Fear of social gatherings.
  • Difficulties to love oneself.
  • Feeling of unworthiness.
  • Searching for the purpose in life.
  • Not feeling secure and rooted in life.
  • Not using one’s full potential.
  • Feeling critical with oneself and others.
  • Fear of financial insecurity and the future.
  • Defining oneself by its roles and status in life.

Do you identify yourself with many of these aspects? Then it’s very probable that your kidneys are out of balance.

Your kidneys strongly influence your fertility and menstruation. Consequently, a kidney deficiency is at the root of many women´s problems like: infertility, amenorrhea, scanty or heavy periods, irregular periods, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and miscarriage. Let´s look today at their role in fertility.

Understanding kidney-yin and kidney-yang

The kidneys in Chinese medicine have a yin part (left kidney) and yang part (right kidney).

Kidney-yin corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for restoration and regeneration. When deficient it can show symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • feeling of heat
  • frequent and sudden urination
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and throat
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • spontaneous sweating
  • often constipation esp. before period
  • vaginal dryness
  • dark scanty urine
  • a pale face with flushed red cheeks
  • a red peeled tongue

Kidney-yang is the foundation of the yang qi in the whole body. Its mission is to warm the whole body to promote the proper functioning of all organs and tissues. Therefore, when deficient we can experience symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • declining or loss of libido
  • difficulty in urination and incontinence
  • excessive passage of urine at night
  • water retention and edema
  • lower backache esp. with menses
  • low BBT readings
  • often diarrhea esp. before or at the beginning of the period
  • cold feet
  • pale tongue

In practice we nearly always see a simultaneous deficiency of both as the two are inseparably linked. This can also lead to contradictory symptoms in women e.g.: feeling of heat of the face while having cold feet.

For getting a better understanding how they work together you could imagine that kidney-yin and kidney-yang are like an old-fashioned oil-lamp. Where kidney-yin is representing the oil and kidney-yang the flame. In other words, if there is not enough oil, the flame can die down and vice versa.

How the kidneys influence the fertilitzation process

In the reproductive system the kidney-yin is responsible for the quality of the ova (substance). While, the kidney-yang matures the follicles and provides the heat that ovulation can happen. Additionally, it is in charge of that the lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for the fertilized egg. As a result, we can see if ovulation happened in the BBT monitoring (basal body temperature) by a temperature rise after ovulation.

Consequently, we can conclude that if there are not many ova and / or the quality of the ova is poor the kidney-yin is weak. Whereas, a deficient kidney-yang can show the following symptoms: the ova is not ripening, ovulation is not happening and the uterus lining not thickening.

Furthermore, the ovaries produce the two sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both are crucial for conceiving and a healthy pregnancy. As a conclusion we can say that if there are low oestrogen levels, a woman can show symptoms of kidney-yin deficiency. Whereas, in case of low progesterone levels, symptoms of kidney-yang deficiency can be detected.

A kidney deficiency can be one of the reasons for recurrent miscarriages.

The main reasons for a kidney deficiency are: poor diet, chronic stress, long persisting emotional problems, certain medications, an inherited poor constitution, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Optimizing female fertility with natural therapies

Hormonal balance is then given when the warming (yang) and cooling (yin) functions of the body are well-balanced. For women showing any signs of kidney deficiency and menstruation problems the following treatments can be applied in my practice: dietary recommendations, acupuncture, herbal and yoga therapy and Bach flower essences.

References

Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. 2nd Edition. by Giovanni Maciocia

Also see my other articles

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

How to Improve your Fertility Naturally

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Hormone Yoga Therapy: Balance your Hormones for Optimal Health

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you!

Chinese medicine: Understanding menopause and 9 TCM tips for natural relief

Chinese medicine: Understanding menopause and 9 TCM tips for natural relief

Menopause: the second spring

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, menopause is referred to as the “second spring”. That sounds great, doesn’t it? It also tells us how much strength and renewal awaits us in the second half of life.

Peri- and menopause are experienced very differently from woman to woman. Peri-menopause is the period of time in which the body makes the natural transition to menopause. During this time we can have stronger, milder or irregular periods. When we haven’t menstruated for 12 consecutive months we have officially reached menopause.

In the transition period and as well in menopause, some suffer from sweats, sleeping disorders and dizziness. Others complain about migraines, eczema, palpitations and depression. While others can go through this life phase without marked symptoms.

In many countries and cultures, older women are considered wise and very respected, and experience more recognition than in our Western culture. The absence of menstruation is seen as a natural part of life, it’s welcomed and celebrated. Menopause is not a disease, but a completely natural process. It’s another special phase in the life of a woman to be consciously experienced, and lived through.

In Western society, where menopause is seen as a weakness and a decrease in life energy, women often experience very severe symptoms.

What happens energetically during menopause?

In order to maintain health for as long as possible, it is important to ensure a balance of the energies yin and yang. Yin is water and therefore cooling and absorbing. It reflects in blood, juices and substance. Yin nourishes and moisturises the tissues and organs, calms our nerves thus ensuring a restful sleep. Yang is fire, it is dynamic and gives us drive. It has a warming effect, gives us energy, joie de vivre and promotes and warms the functions of the tissues and organs. Both are equal parts of a whole and interdependent.

A woman’s menstrual cycle reflects her state of hormonal balance. When her yin and yang are balanced she has a regular cycle with moderate blood flow. The monthly bleeding cools and detoxifies the body, cleaning her uterus, cervix and vagina. It’s therefore unhealthy to suppress menstruation.

Many women suffering from: sleep problems, hot flashes, mood swings and acne, experience an improvement when the period arrives and the days after. The reason is that the body gets rid of excess heat and toxins. If you suffer from hot flashes and night sweats during the menopause, you will notice exactly this phenomenon: too much heat remains in the body due to less frequent or no bleeding.

As we get older, we automatically produce less and less blood and qi, less yin and yang. In order to protect the precious yin energies, so they are still available to us in the second half of life, the monthly bleeding stops gradually. The “heavenly water” becomes less and less and eventually stops flowing. Due to the lack of blood loss, the body regains energy. Some women experience this as a real high.

This period of change takes place mostly between the ages of 40 and 50 and lasts for different lengths of time. Depending on the constitution and lifestyle of a woman it can manifest itself in different symptoms.

Typical complaints in menopause can be

  • vaginal dryness
  • hot flashes, chills
  • night sweats
  • palpations
  • sleep problems and insomnia
  • mood changes, irritability, restlessness
  • anxiety, panic, nervousness
  • inability to concentrate
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • eczema
  • tinnitus
  • dry eyes
  • dry skin and mucous membranes
  • hair loss
  • itchy skin
  • exhaustion, lack of drive
  • lack of libido
  • bladder weakness, urine leakage
  • weight gain, slowed metabolism
  • headaches
  • breast soreness
  • osteoporosis
  • joint pain
  • digestive problems

Stay connected and drop by on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM.

menopause and traditional chinese medicine

Menopause and our kidneys

In TCM, the kidneys are responsible for the process of ageing. They are the root of our body’s yin and yang. As we get older, the kidneys’ yin and yang decrease. The kidney is the big central store of all our powers and vital life substance (essence). In the course of our lives, essence and yin and yang decrease more and more. It’s desirable, and very helpful, when this happens at a steady pace so the body slowly gets used to the changes.

However, our current way of life often leads to a faster decrease in yin energy. Women also consume yin through their menstrual period and pregnancies. Too much stress, pressure to perform and excessive physical exertion. Computers and cell phones, lack of sleep, poor diets and fast food affect us in the course of our lives.

Kidney-yin corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for restoration and regeneration. When deficient it can show symptoms of

  • night sweats and hot flashes
  • afternoon heat
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • ringing in the ears and hearing problems
  • palpitation
  • insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes
  • vaginal dryness
  • a pale face with flushed red cheeks
  • a red peeled tongue
  • dark scanty urine

Kidney-yang is the foundation of the yang qi in the whole body. Its mission is to warm the whole body to promote the proper functioning of all organs and tissues. When deficient we can experience symptoms of

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • declining or loss of libido
  • difficulty in urination and incontinence
  • water retention and edema

There is often a mixture of the two: heat alternates with cold.

How we experience menopause therefore depends on how well we have taken care of our kidneys and taken care of our female health in the course of living. Our eating and living habits, but also our emotional life have a big impact on the health and energy of the kidneys.

A kidney yin or yang deficiency often shows up with a liver-qi stagnation. Women who have experienced long-term stress in their relationships, have a general frustration in life and overworked for many years often have a stagnant liver-qi. They have the impression that their life isn’t flowing and have feelings of frustration, resistance and feel pressure in their chest.

Common symptoms of liver-qi stagnation are

  • alternating digestive complaints that get worse especially when stressed (esp. change of diarrhoea and constipation)
  • irregular menstruation and PMS complaints
  • mood swings
  • prone to frustration and irritability
  • headaches and migraines
  • weather sensitivity
  • lump in throat
  • frequent sighing

Regular and moderate exercise helps to move our liver-qi, especially when done in nature. A deep and conscious breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system and helps to relax and to stay calm.

Causes of menopausal problems

As stated above there are many women who transit through menopause without any marked symptoms. In Chinese medicine we already see in the years before menopause if a woman will pass this period smoothly or not.

Some factors that certainly negatively influence the state of the menopausal years are:

Overwork

Working long hours with insufficient periods of rest which often result in lack of movement. It also promotes eating under stress which weakens kidney-yin.

Emotional stress

Emotional stress is one of the most common causes for menopausal problems. When experienced over many years, kidney-yin is weakened by fear, anxiety and guilt. Whereas liver-qi becomes stagnant by recurrent feelings of anger, frustration and suppressed emotions.

Smoking

Smoking tobacco injures lung-yin and dries blood and fluids in the body. Over time it weakens kidney-yin. It also can aggravate feelings of grief, sadness and worry.

Eating irregular meals and dairy

Irregular meals, consuming poor diet and dairy foods and / or overeating weakens spleen-qi. It can also cause the formation of phlegm. As a result, slower metabolism, tiredness, oedemas and other symptoms can occur.

Coffee and alcohol

They are both yang in nature and consumed on a regular basis can worsen menopausal problems.
See also my article “Coffee – Is it good or bad for your health?

 

best foods to eat to help relieve menopause

TCM nutrition for menopause

“Let food be your medicine”

In TCM, foods are classified according to their thermal properties and their effect on the individual.

In general, you could say that foods that grow in summer, and in the South tend to have a cooling effect. Whereas foods that grow in winter, and in the North tend to have a warming effect.

The yin and fluids of the body can be supported via the diet, so that the body does not run so hot. Remember that yin has cooling properties and during menopause many women experience an excess of yang. That’s why we want to make sure to especially nourish our yin during these years.

Foods from the neutral to slightly cooling category and juice-building foods should be on the menu more often. As a result, foods with warming and heating properties should be avoided.

9 diet tips for progressing smoothly through menopause

1. Consume mineral-rich foods and water

They are especially good to nourish your kidney-yin. Dark leafy veggies, lentils, seaweed, wild-caught fish, fermented foods, bone or vegetable broth, black sesame, millet, amaranth and quinoa.

I highly recommend Quinton plasma seawater for boosting the kidney-yin.

2. Eat foods with slightly cooling and refreshing properties

Preference is for cooking methods like soups, stews and compotes as they help to fight symptoms of dryness and heat. All vegetables and esp. soybean, dandelion, radicchio, chicory, tomato, aubergine, avocado, asparagus, beetroot, carrot, pumpkin, red berries, goji berry, pear and apple are preferable.

3. Reduce coffee and alcohol

It’s even better if you avoid both of them when suffering from any symptoms of heat and dryness. Both have heating and drying properties, weaken the kidney-yang and if consumed regularly promote liver-qi stagnation.

4. Eat regular and at similar times

Eating regularly, and ideally at similar times, is important to calm the nervous system and to keep blood sugar levels balanced. During menopause the body is going through a lot of changes and eating at regular times helps the body in finding balance again.

5.Drink mainly hot water and herbal teas

Hot water strengthens the digestion and helps to rinse away any toxins.

Herbal teas which are especially recommended during menopause are: Monk’s pepper, sage, blackcurreat leaf tea, black cohosh, shepherd’s purse, passionflower herb and dandelion.

6. Avoid spicy herbs

They have a heating and drying effect and esp. chilli, pepper, pimento, dried ginger, curry, horseradish and garlic should be avoided. Fresh ginger, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg can be eaten in moderation but should be avoided when hot flashes or night sweats are present.

7. Avoid drying and / or heating drinks

Keep your hands off these drinks when suffering symptoms of heat or dryness: green and black tea, chai tea, ginger tea, red wine, high percentage alcohol and cacao milk.

8. Avoid grilled, fried and deep-fried foods

These preparation methods have a heating effect and should therefore be avoided. They can heat up the body even more and worsen symptoms like insomnia, irritability, hot flashes and night sweats. It is better to boil, steam and bake food.

9. Avoid foods that have a hot and drying effect 

Besides the above-mentioned spices and drinks, the following foods should be avoided as well: Lamb, game, loaf, mould cheese, sugar and candy.

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Also see my other articles concerning menopause 

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Menopause Hot Flashes & Sweating: 6 Natural Ways to Control it

Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine Can Help

 

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.